* Lauren Ping competing at the 2020 AIA State Cross Country Championship.
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CHICAGO (April 8, 2021) - In its 36th year of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company today announced Lauren Ping of Desert Vista High School as its 2020-21 Gatorade Arizona Girls Cross Country Player of the Year. Ping is the second Gatorade Arizona Girls Cross Country Player of the Year to be chosen from Desert Vista High School.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Ping as Arizona's best high school girls cross country player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Player of the Year award to be announced in April, Ping joins an elite alumni association of state award-winners in 12 sports, including Lukas Verzbicas (2010-11, 2009-10, Carl Sandburg High School, Orland Park, Ill.), Megan Goethals (2009- 10, Rochester High School, Rochester Hills, Mich.), Jordan Hasay (2008-09, Mission College Preparatory Catholic High School, San Luis Obispo, Calif.) and Chris Derrick (2007-08, Neuqua Valley High School, Naperville, Ill.).
The 5-foot-9 sophomore raced to the Division 1 individual state championship this past season with a time of 17:13.4. Arizona's returning Gatorade Girls Cross Country Player of the Year, Ping also won the Chandler Invitational and the Phoenix Classic Showdown at Sundown. She took second at the Desert Twilight Festival and sixth at the AAU National Championships.
Ping has volunteered locally on behalf of a youth running camp. "Lauren is a very hard worker and very detailed," said Desert Vista head coach Megan Ping. "She's also very encouraging to her teammates and an awesome role model."
Ping has maintained a weighted 4.17 GPA in the classroom. She will begin her junior year of high school this fall.
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Two-time winner Ping joins recent Gatorade Arizona Girls Cross Country Players of the Year Abi Archer (2018-19, Chaparral High School), Maya Smith (2017-18, Northland Preparatory Academy) and Allie Schadler (2016-17, Rio Rico High School), among the state's list of former award winners. Through Gatorade's cause marketing platform "Play it Forward," Ping has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of their choosing. Ping is also eligible to submit a 30-second video explaining why the organization they chose is deserving of one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants, which will be announced throughout the year. To date, Gatorade Player of the Year winners' grants have totaled more than $2.7 million across 1,117 organizations.
Since the program's inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have also turned into pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators.
To learn more about the Gatorade Player of the Year program, check out past winners or to nominate student-athletes, visit www.playeroftheyear.gatorade.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GatoradePOY or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Gatorade.